‘Momma bear kicked in on me…not today,’ said Kingsport woman who fought off robber with baseball bat

Lisa Morelock

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – A Kingsport homeowner came face to face with a man who forced his way inside her home over the weekend.

Police said that man tried to rob her, but didn’t know what he had coming.

It all started around 9:00 p.m. Saturday night, police said a woman who lives on Bond Drive answered a knock at the door when she saw a woman was holding a “Lost Dog” flyer.

Lisa Morelock

Kingsport Police Department’s public information officer, Tom Patton described what happened next.

“That was apparently a ruse designed to get her to open the door, as soon as she opened the door, a man stepped in front of the woman holding the flyer, he had a mask on,” Patton said.

Patton said that’s when a struggle would follow, the suspect trying to push 52-year-old Lisa Morelock in and out of her home.

Monday afternoon we went to Bond Drive, and found Lisa Morelock who explained that after the suspect pushed his way inside her home, her instinct to fight back kicked in.

“I was scared for a few seconds in there, and then momma bear kicked in on me and, no, not today,” Morelock said.

According to police, Morelock was able to remove part of the man’s mask and recognized him as a long-time family friend identified as 34-year-old Joe Sotello.

Standing at just 4 feet 11 inches tall Morelock was staring at someone almost one foot taller, and 100 lbs heavier.

Morelock said that wasn’t going to stop her from fighting back.

“I reached over, and grabbed a bat, and it’s an aluminum bat,” Morelock said.

According to police, two other teenage witnesses inside the home also stepped in.

Together the three females pushed Sotello from the home.

Joe Sotello (Source: Kingsport Police Department)

“I knew if he ran I wasn’t going to catch him, I thought alright, I’ll bang that car up,” Morelock said.

The car wasn’t the only thing battered and bruised in this attempted robbery, and looking at 34-year-old Joe Sotello’s mug shot, is proof of that.

Morelock hopes her story will help others to stand up and fight back.

“Don’t be so afraid, if I can do it, anybody can,” Morelock said.

The woman, who was allegedly holding the dog flyer, is reportedly Sotello’s girlfriend.

The woman drove away from the scene, but Sotello ran away and was later found at the home of one of the victim’s relatives.

His girlfriend reportedly turned herself in but was not charged. Police say her limited role was done out of fear.

Sotello has been charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary. He was transported to Kingsport City Jail, but due to his injuries, he was taken to the local hospital for medical assistance.

Police said after giving several false statements, Sotello allegedly confessed and said he had been going through some tough times.

Sotello is currently behind bars at the Sullivan County Jail in Blountville, pending an arraignment and a $35,000 bond.

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